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O.C. nonprofits, continued ...Published: October 01, 2011

Still, the gold standard for corporate giving is the Disneyland Resort. In 2010 the resort and its employees donated more than $12 million to scores of nonprofit organizations locally. Annually, the resort receives more than 10,000 requests for donations, tickets and auction prizes, making it one of the most heavily targeted companies in America.
   
“Despite the volatile economy, our level of community support has remained constant over the last five years,” says George Kalogridis, president of the Disneyland Resort. “Since 1955, the people of Orange County have played a large role in Disneyland’s success, and, as the county’s largest employer, we take our responsibility to the community seriously.”

Making it personal
Some in the county are striking out on their own to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. A year ago, Laguna Beach couple Joselyn and Todd Miller launched Global Grins, a nonprofit that supplies impoverished and low-income communities and villages with toothbrushes. Research has clearly linked good oral hygiene with overall health, happiness and classroom success. In less than 12 months, they have sent, or have delivered, nearly 60,000 toothbrushes to dozens of countries. Most recently, the couple rose before dawn to participate in the delivery of 6,000 plastic toothbrushes to students in South Central L.A. as part of Operation Bell. Their goal is to ultimately place 1 million toothbrushes worldwide.
   
“We hope we are making a difference,” says Joselyn, whose family garage has become the warehouse for more than 100,000 toothbrushes. “But the truth is, we are getting more out of this than maybe those we are helping. The satisfaction from seeing their faces light up is why we do this.”
   
What’s next?
Despite all of the compassion, the hours and the prayers, there is no end in sight to the need and no relief from donation deficits and volunteer burnout.
   
“What keeps me up at night is the fear of compassion fatigue,” says 
Wakeham of Families Forward. “It’s this idea that you can only ask so often and so much, and at some point those people whom you depend on to carry your organization and to make a difference just say no because they have their own issues. It’s a very difficult time. It’s where your faith must take over.”

Ever the optimist, Ruane, of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, sees light on the horizon and is constantly lobbying others to see his vision.
   
“Adversity yields invention and creativity,” he says. “I am very optimistic about the future. We have the talent and the ideas; we just need to remain focused. Remember, this was a county that only a few short decades ago was dependent on Los Angeles for just about everything. Today, we are a major market exporting ideas and innovation. Great things can happen here. The nonprofit community has to believe that.”

Jessica Berrie contributed to this report.


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